There was a time when music was all about this: British Heavy Metal, replete with the energy of Punk and the fundamental stomp of traditional Rock, exploring the further reaches of fantasy and gnarled devil-craw vocalising. None were - or possibly are - finer than the balls-out muscularity and musicianship of Iron Maiden.
The Number Of The Beast album - Maiden's third - was released back in 1982, and is the first to feature the acrobatic shark-lung vocals of fencing champ / occasional pilot / author of saucy aristocratic rumpy pumpy novels (hehe) Bruce Dickinson. As a whole it slides Maiden swiftly across from the Punked-up bark of previous singer Paul Di'Anno, and from there to multi-million selling status.
'The Number Of The Beast' - as a single - is nothing more than honest, brilliantly constructed Metal (with a capital 'M', of course): dramatic, dirty, driving, and tighter than Steve Harris' trousers. When a track's so culturally ubiquitous further commentary seems a tad unnecessary. If you're a Metalhead you'll already own this single; for those whose tastes lie with any contemporary guitar battlers there's plenty of fresh n scrapping fun to be found herein.
It's released on a number of formats including picture disc, 7" coloured vinyl and a fantastic enhanced CD that also includes live versions of the title track and the gothic Hallowed Be Thy Name recorded at Brixton Academy (their spiritual home in many ways), the original NOTB promo and that 2002 live performance in its full, visual-video gory glory.
Coming off the back of the fantastic recent DVD 'Iron Maiden: The Early Years', and given the EMI Catalogue number EM666, it's a timely reminder that there was a time when sewing patches and beer towels onto drainpipe faded jeans was the height of cool, a time, in retrospect, that showed that the Punk spirit was alive in a mutant form, a time before the poodles and the poseurs took over.